Tag Archives: God

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“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
- Isaiah 7:14

Despite all of the problems that humanity faces on earth, God has promised to deliver His people. This promise was originally given to the Israelites, but He also promises to deliver us today. A loving God would never allow His people to be defeated.

Because life can seem hopeless at times, God also promised a visible sign of His deliverance, so that no one would miss it. The sign was simple, yet unmistakable: a young woman would give birth to a unique child that would bring God’s presence near closer to us. This prophecy was ultimately fulfilled when Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ, the son of God.

The significance of God’s promise is real and tangible. Today, no matter what problem we may face, we can know that God is with us! We do not need to doubt whether God will save us from our problems, but we can look to His promise of His Son. God has entered our world, and we are no longer alone. Even when others leave us, God is with us!

Prayer: Lord, please deliver us from the evil in our lives. Only you can save us from the problems of this world, and we thank you for sending Jesus Christ, so that we know You have not forgotten us. This Christmas, no matter what may we face, we believe and confide in You for our deliverance.

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14 The Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”

(Gen. 3:15)

Thousands of years beforehand, God planned Jesus’ birth.

God’s plan was not to make everyone wealthy or to give us political victory, but to save the world from sin. Adam and Eve fell short of God’s glory by sinning against Almighty God, just as we have all sinned. Yet in the midst of our sin, God promised that He would provide a Savior to save us from our sins.

As early as Genesis 3, God explained what his plan would be: He would provide an offspring of Eve to overcome the devil. This incredible promise, following Adam and Eve’s sin, was revealed to us in Jesus Christ. All of humanity longed for this long-awaited Savior to defeat the deceiver, and with Christ’s birth, God fulfilled His promise to save His people from their sins.

Prayer: Lord, help us to remember the true meaning of Christmas this year. With all of the hustle and bustle that surrounds us, please help us to remember your incredible promise to save the world. This Christmas, help us to look beyond ourselves and to recognize the victory that only comes through Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Driving through various parts of Chicago, I was reminded of how scattered and isolated we have become as a nation. This is nothing new, of course, but I realized again how many social and economic barriers we have created amongst ourselves. One block is home to one ethnicity, while across the street is another. As a society, we are not united as much as we think, but broken.

Admittedly, it is easy to criticize the Christian church for not being more multicultural and diverse. While there are usually good intentions within our churches, in actuality, very little is done. This is because there is not a quick solution or an easy program that will erase the societal boundaries that surround us. We face a nearly insurmountable task.

However… we serve an amazing God. Our God is constantly desiring to tear down boundaries between people groups and unite them in love. He is continually destroying the walls of hostility. He unites people through His love.

While we don’t have easy answers, we serve a God who has all of the answers. If our God could part the Red Sea, then He can work miraculously in our communities. But we need to believe. Step one in being more multicultural is trusting in a miraculous God.

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The book of Leviticus can seem daunting, irrelevant, boring, and downright frightening. Honestly, I have avoided the book from time to time, as have many others. It is easy to overlook the book because the “rituals” no longer apply to us, and it can be difficult to discern what those rituals teach us.

After reading just the first few chapters, though, here are a few reasons that we can be thankful for its message:

* God has a plan for His people.
* God gives answers, so we don’t need to figure out problems on our own.
* God sets standards intended for people to follow.
* God knows we sin, but still wants to communicate with us.
* God provides a way for us to get rid of our guilt.
* God enjoys our offerings, as simple as they may be.
* God has decided to forgive us!

Those are just a few reasons. Read the first few chapters of Leviticus and see if you can add some more to add to the list.

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It is good to ask God, “Where are you?” Some of us are afraid to ask, thinking that our faith or our soul is in jeopardy. But in reality, it is quite the opposite. If we are asking God where He is, it means that we care and that we want to know where God is. In fact, we are better off when asking this question. As Scripture says, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)

Living in New Testament times, we are apt to answer this question too quickly. We dismiss passages like Psalm 22, where David asks, “Why are you so far from me?” Often we flippantly respond that David didn’t know the whole picture. Now that we have the New Testament, we know that God’s Spirit lives inside of us (1 Corinthians 3:16, Romans 8:11), so we no longer need to ask God where He is.

But honestly, that is only part of the picture. In Psalm 22, David is not asking a question about spatial location. He was well aware that God is omnipresent; in other words, there is no place where God is not. (Psalm 139:7-12). Nor was David doubting that God was within earshot. Otherwise He wouldn’t have prayed when He felt distant from God. (Psalm 51:11, Ps. 44)

What did David mean, then, when he asked God, “Why have you forgotten me?” He felt distant from God in terms of God’s relational presence. We do not know whether God was actually distant (because of sin in David’s life) or if He only seemed to be distant (because of David’s feelings). In either case, though, it was good for David to ask.

In the first case, when we sin, we should always ask God where He is. We should reject our sin and turn back to Him. As 1 John 1:9 reminds us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Though we have gone astray (Is. 53:6), God is faithful. When we are willing, we will always be able to find Him.

In the second case, we should also seek God. Our feelings are easily swayed by our circumstances, trials, conflict, chemical imbalances, or even a lack of sleep. Because of this, when we feel distant from God, we should immediately seek God. Just as God can heal our physical body, He can also heal our emotions. (Exodus 15:26) It is so important that we trust God with our entire lives, not excluding our emotions.

This is wonderful news for anyone who believes in Jesus Christ! God provides a perfect balance for us. On one hand, we are not called to a fake happiness or to smile all of the time. As it says in Eccelesiates 8:6, “there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him.” There is a time to face reality and mourn. (Ecc. 3:4)

At the same time, we do not need to needlessly struggle with depression or downheartedness. We can rejoice and experience inexpresible joy in our life — not because of who we are, but because of our hope in Jesus Christ. Our hope is a living and secure hope because it focuses on God who, unlike our circumstances, does not change. It does not spoil, fade, perish, or ruin. 1 Peter 1:3-9 helps us remember the hope that we have in Christ.

In closing, hear the word of the Spirit, who is able to encourage us whenever we feel like David:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Pet. 1:3-9)

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Recently I was asked about my view of the arts in local church. I thought I’d post my brief response, in case it is helpful to anyone.

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When it comes to the creative arts, I believe that art is a wonderful part of the Christian life. Various passages of Scripture reveal that God loves creativity, He enjoys various expressions of art, and He desires to be glorified through the arts.

In the local church, creativity’s primary purpose is to glorify God. A theme verse of mine has been Psalm 115:1, though there are many to support this. In no particular order, secondary purposes of the creative arts include: (1) delighting in creation, (2) expressing ourselves to God, (3) soothing/reviving our spirit, (4) edifying the church with sound doctrine, and (5) testifying to non-believers.

Worship is important to God and to His people. Although the creative arts should be enjoyable — very enjoyable — it is far more than being a form of entertainment. As I see it, the arts serve as the intersection between theology and expression. In biblical terms, this means worshiping in “spirit and truth.” We get into trouble when we neglect one or the other.

Finally, worship extends far beyond music and the other arts. It includes all of our actions. 1 Corinthians 10:31 makes it clear that we can even glorify God in our common, everyday activities, which extends far beyond a few hours on Sunday. (And based upon Amos, it is fair to say that this “daily worship” is much more important than the music on Sunday morning.) In a sense, creative arts are not an end in themselves, but a means towards greater service, sacrifice, love, etc. Worship beyond Sunday morning is the real test for the Church, and which ultimately determines the validity of its corporate worship.

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Yesterday, at about 2:30, a doctor told my wife, “Worst case scenario… you die.”  They were worried about a blood clot in her leg.  Needless to say, we were at the hospital for 8 hours, but the test results showed that nothing was wrong.  She went home without needing any treatment at all.

As some of you know, this scenario has happened before.  In late August / September, two doctors were worried that I could be dying, but it turned out to be a relatively minor condition.  Yet another time this year, God has changed our red flags to white.

Not only is God good, but He must also have a sense of humor.  We ended up leaving the hospital last night laughing quite a bit.  Even when our car didn’t start in the parking garage (not a pleasant surprise!), God helped us get home quickly.  Strange, but God has creative ways to get through to us. 

The moral of the story is:  Don’t let false starts get you worried.  Be confident that “He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  (Philippians 1:6)  And remember that no matter what, God will bring you home.

Please keep us in prayer tonight and tomorrow.  My wife will begin labor, and although it won’t be easy, please pray that the pain and discomfort is as minimal as possible.  For me, just pray that I can eat something and that I don’t faint!